False claims on UN-SR exit statement typical of Philippine military

“How the Armed Forces twisted the words of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons is nothing new. It has been the “logic” of fascist minds to justify their attacks against the people,” said Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay. 

Chaloka Beyani -Image by rappler.com 

(Image by rappler.com) 

She said, “The AFP, like its commander-in-chief BS Aquino, twists truths and comes out with lies to cover up human rights violations, employing underhanded tactics such as red tagging and filing of false criminal charges against leaders of progressive organizations through the use of ‘professional witnesses’ and ‘planting of evidence’ or sowing intrigues and pitting the people against each other.” 

Karapatan said that Pres. Aquino and AFP Chief-of-Staff Gen. Hernando Iriberri should also answer for “spouting and promoting these lies before the international community.” 

“It is no surprise that the Philippine government has distorted Dr. Beyani’s statements, just as it has rejected repeated requests for official visits and investigations of other UN experts such as that of the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial killings and on the rights of human rights defenders, to deliberately hide or mangle the truth on the real state of human rights in the Philippines. Several diplomatic demarches have also been ignored by the Aquino administration,” Palabay added.

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights of internally displaced persons Chaloka Beyani criticized the AFP for “distorting” his statement on the situation of Lumad who evacuated from Davao del Norte and Bukidnon, and sought temporary shelter and safety at the compound of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) in Davao City. 

The AFP however, stands by its earlier declaration that the Lumad evacuees were victims of ‘human trafficking’ and that they were ‘manipulated’, “desperately attributing the same statement to the Dr. Beyani,” added Palabay. 

“The same pigheadedness of the AFP towards the Beyani’s exit report is manifested in the BS Aquino regime’s non-compliance to the recommendations of Prof. Philip Alston, SR on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions who investigated rights violations the country in 2006,” she said. 

Among the recommendations of Alston in his 2007 report to the UN Human Rights Council were for the government to stop counter-insurgency programs that result to rights violations against the civilian population; take concrete measures to end extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, and torture; the abolition of the IALAG (Inter-Agency Legal Action Group of Gloria Arroyo) which was instrumental in filing criminal charges against activists; and an end to the practice of red tagging and linking of legal organizations with “groups engaged in armed struggle.”

Karapatan maintains that “all these measures were disregarded both by the Arroyo and Aquino regimes.” There are 262 documented cases of extrajudicial killing and 293 frustrated killings under the five years of the Aquino regime, which Karapatan attributes to the implementation of Oplan Bayanihan, Aquino’s counter-insurgency program which is no different from Arroyo’s Oplan Bantay Laya.

Palabay said that while the IALAG was abolished, the practice of falsely charging activists with trumped-up crimes still exists. There are now 537 political prisoners, majority of them face criminal charges in court.    

“The circumstances of the evacuees at the UCCP in Davao City are replicated in many other communities, mostly in Mindanao,” said Palabay. As of June 2015, there are more than 60,000 documented victims of forced evacuation.

 

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